Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) leaders and New York City Mayor Eric Adams are reportedly meeting at the negotiating table on how to amend the city’s strict sanctuary laws.

Ken Genalo, the New York City regional field director for ICE, said his agency has been making progress with Adams’ office on how to work around sanctuary laws that bar local law enforcement from cooperating with his staff, according to a report from the New York Post. Adams has shown a public willingness to change the city’s anti-ICE laws in the wake of a massive influx of illegal immigrants since the beginning of the border crisis. 

“I’ve been working with the mayor’s office, I have had dialogue with them,” Genalo said to The Post. “I give them kudos — the prior administration under Mr. de Blasio … there was no dialogue at all.”

“With Mayor Adams’ office, we’ve had numerous dialogues,” Genalo continued. “At least we’re back at the table and speaking with one another again.”

New York City, the most populous city in the country and a bastion of liberal politics, has long had sanctuary laws on the books.

Former Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2014 signed into law a bill that largely prohibits the New York Police Department from working with federal immigration authorities, and he enacted legislation in 2018 that doubled down on this policy. While there is no official definition of “sanctuary city,” the Big Apple is placed on the Center for Immigration Studies national list of sanctuary jurisdictions for its anti-ICE laws.

However, these laws have come into question as New York City continues to bear the brunt of the ongoing illegal immigration crisis.

New York City has accepted around 160,000 asylum seekers since April 2022, forcing leaders to make substantial budget cuts in order to deal with the burden. Last year, Adams announced sweeping cuts for government services in order to pay for the incoming illegal immigrants taking residence in the city, and at the time said the city was reaching a “breaking point” from the sheer volume of migrants.

Clashes between ICE and New York City leaders came to a recent head when the agency publicly shamed local authorities for ignoring their detainer request against an illegal immigrant accused of beating up an NYPD officer.

The issue of detainer requests is of particular importance for federal immigration authorities working in New York City. Genalo told the Post that he desperately wants to see the city change its policy so local law enforcement can more frequently honor ICE detainer requests, allowing deportation officers enough time to make an apprehension at a local detention facility instead of having to locate dangerous criminal illegal immigrants out in the community.

Adams, for his part, has been coming around to the idea of more cooperation with ICE. In February, he said he’d like to see migrants charged with major crimes to be handed over to federal immigration authorities.

However, it’s not immediately clear what the talks between ICE and Adams will produce.

“I wish progress would come faster,” Genalo told the Post. “But at least I can say there has been progress.”

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